A Good Prayer; November 13, 2017

Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

One of David’s good points was that he knew what to ask for. His requests here doubtless pleased God a great deal. The first request comes with a promise. It does no good to know God’s way if you aren’t going to walk in it. That’s a real issue in “Christian” countries. It is a good thing when the Bible’s teachings permeate a society, but often when that happens, people just give those teachings lip service and don’t really walk them out. Sometimes they actively deny them! David had his famous huge deviation from God’s path with Bathsheba and Uriah, but he repented genuinely, and the over-all course of his life was indeed a fulfillment of his promise here. The second half of the verse deals with a common human problem we have all experienced at times: being double-minded. Cartoons depict the situation as a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other, each trying to convince you to do things their way. We may honestly want to walk in God’s truth, but at the same time we want to go the way of the flesh. Paul famously bemoaned that situation in Romans 7. It is helpful that David puts it in the context of fear. Love is the highest motivator, but sometimes we need a healthy dose of fear! That’s why physical punishment is almost always necessary in raising children. Frankly, logic doesn’t get through, but if they learn that disobeying their parents brings painful consequences, they learn obedience. God doesn’t pick on us, any more than any good parent picks on their children, but He does bring discipline into our lives to teach us right from wrong. Sometimes fear is very helpful in getting us to listen to the “angel” instead of the “devil!”

I’ve certainly had my times of conflicting “pulls” in my heart! It would be wonderful if I could say I’d always chosen right, but that would be dishonest to say the least. This verse foreshadows two statements by James, both in the first chapter of his letter. The first part calls to mind James 1:22. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” The second half calls to mind James 1:5-8. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” I have prided myself on my intellect since childhood, but intellect isn’t the same thing as wisdom. Just yesterday I read an article that said that more intelligent people are more likely to believe some absurd things, because their pride keeps them from checking things out properly. I’ve done that! I have known God’s way and yet failed to walk in His truth, and I have failed to fear Him enough to give Him my undivided devotion. I’ve got to remember that I am certainly no better than David, and he fell drastically. I’ve got to walk in humble, grateful obedience.

Father, thank You for this reminder. The devil certainly never lets up, so I must never let down my guard. Help me indeed walk in the truth You have planted in me, with an undivided heart, so that I may bring only honor to the name of Christ that I bear. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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